Books, Reading, Google, the Future . . . .

. . . and the whole ball of wax. I'm probably driving half of you nuts -- but.... What can I say? I'm a writer, so I think about this stuff.

"Media" as we know it is undergoing a profound shift and it's fascinating to live through the experience. Painful, but fascinating.

Eg, as I may have mentioned earlier, although I have a contract for the book I'm writing, I have no idea if the publisher will still exist in two years. Have no idea if, by then, that publisher or any other will still want to "publish" "real" books. Have no idea what "publishing" and "books" will be like by that time. 

Then there's the recent settlement with Google about its project to digitize the known universe. (This will affect just about everyone on the planet, so it's worth knowing about.)

No surprise, many people are weighing in on all of this, and I keep track of it, and so I offer this up to those of you who, like me, are living through a moment of historical import.

Some of these links below are now about a week old (I've been trying to put this entry together that long; the baby is a time sink), so you may have seen some of them already.

For a great introduction to the issues facing the publishing industry, this piece in Time magazine.

If you're up for more, this fascinating essay pondering the possible impact of the Google settlement. The author, Robert Darnton, is a historian (a considerably more refined, high-brow, and erudite one than am I), so his take is, uh, historical. If you can wade through the technical stuff at the beginning, the essay is absolutely worth reading. (*1)

And then this alt-view on the same subject from Nicholas Carr. Connected to all of this is, of course, the ongoing debate on "the future of the book."

Many people are thinking in detail about that, but one of the best efforts is that of David Nygren at his blog, The Urban Elitist. David isn't just some random, frustrated writer-wannabe. He works in mainstream publishing, so he's inside the belly of the beast and grasps the technical and logistical issues at stake. He's got many posts on this subject, so start with this, and then click on his "books" or "e-books" tags for more. He's also partnered up with another friend, and they're writing a series of cross-posts on the subject, so take a look at this if you have time.

I've also been enjoying the ruminations on these topics by Alan Jacobs at Text Patterns and the folks at Book Oven.

And finally, a sobering roundup of the latest newspaper closing/bankruptcies/etc. (I believe I owe Stan for this particular link, when he commented on an earlier post of mine.) (And for this.)


*1: I'm puzzled, however, by the lack of links to relevant topics. Why in the world didn't the editors say "gee, this would be a great opportunity to use the web's power to enhance a piece that also appeared in print.